Transcript How to Build Engagement

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Mitch Simon 0:10
Welcome to another episode of team anywhere where CEOs, leaders and experts are building teams, companies, organizations, and amazing cultures

Mitch Simon 0:10
Welcome to another episode of team anywhere where CEOs, leaders and experts are building teams, companies, organizations, and amazing cultures

Unknown Speaker 0:21
share how to lead from anywhere in the world. I’m your co host on the East Coast, Judy Bianca Mathis,

Mitch Simon 0:28
and I’m your co host on the West Coast. Mitch Simon. And we invite you to join us team anywhere.

Today on Team anywhere we invite Rachael Casanova, Managing Director at Cushman and Wakefield, who is focusing on workplace innovation by helping business owners maximize the experience of their unique culture by leveraging their real estate, whether it is at the office, the home, the hub, or any combination in between. The biggest takeaways from this cutting edge interview are how forward thinking leaders are we looking at work. They’re being intentional about why people gather when they gather, who will gather and building the spaces and the calendar around that intention. Tuesdays might be for brainstorming Wednesday for solo work and Thursdays for project work. I love her perspective about how business owners and leaders will need to become more retail oriented towards satisfying their customers, the employees to make sure just like in retail, there’s a solid reason to come to work, and the experiences there will justify the reason together and to suffer the commute. All of this thinking will be crucial for how business leaders think about bringing people back to the office since the office, the cube, the town hall, their project creation team space will never be the same All right, well hello and welcome to another episode of team anywhere in online today we have Rachel Casanova, who is the senior Managing Director at Cushman and Wakefield. Welcome, Rachel, how

Unknown Speaker 2:16
are you, Rachel? Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Mitch Simon 2:20
Great. So, you know, I’ve, I’ve had the privilege of working with Cushman and Wakefield for over a decade, and I’m so excited to have you on the line. And, and I know that from, you know, usually a Cushman Wakefield, a lot of people think about commercial real estate brokers and you’re not a commercial real estate broker at all. So if you could just start, you know, describe what you do your unique background and why why is it that you love what you’re doing right now?

Unknown Speaker 2:49
Sure. Well, unfortunately, I’m not a thing. I’m not a broker. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a lawyer and 25 years of a career, it’s taken a long time and tall elevator to explain to me People what I do, including my mother, who always says, what is it that you but my title that, you know, I do consulting, I work in the workplace innovation world. And what does that mean? What it really means is we’re trying to help clients figure out how they relate their business strategy, their people’s strategy and their real estate strategy. People who come to me are likely driven in some way by ensuring that the the asset or the expense of real estate brings value to the organization. It’s not just a line of something I have to have. But what is the value of having people come together and that’s what we really bridge both of those understanding their world and understanding how it might relate to real estate, and workplace and even at times work from home right. So over the years, this is not a new concept. We’ve been at figuring out the world of work and where people do it for a long time. Which brings us to why now is exciting. People like myself do really well at times of change. Because when it’s sort of status quo, we kind of can get lazy. We can say, well, you want what you had you want what they have. Great. We’ll give that to you, too. When there’s change among us, the question is, you know, how much do we get to rethink we ask, and how did the solutions change? So it’s an unfortunate reason. But when we see even economic downturns, things like this, these are never times that I’m not busy. They’re really times people want to plan they want to think differently. And that’s certainly upon us globally, right now.

Mitch Simon 4:33
There used to be a reason why we went to work. And maybe that question is changing. So it seems to me like you really think about this question like, why do we go to work with the emphasis on go, and how do you think employees, employers, landlords, how do you think they need to think about today? Why do you go to work?

Unknown Speaker 4:54
Yeah, I saw when you asked me that question, I actually listened to a podcast recently and the question was even broader. Do I say this is where who I work for? This is where I work. Right? So the question of my association with an organization, we take it for granted, but that entire conversation of my relationship to my work is a really important one. And the timeframe since post COVID are like two to four week increments of mindset. So I might say the same thing and it makes sense for about a month, and the story continues to change. This is so fast paced. And there was early on we were hearing people say we’re doing fine, we don’t need to go to work. In fact, anyone who called this a return to work, fill in the blank was sort of rejected. It’s not a return to work, we haven’t stopped. So we saw people saying, I’m, I’m collaborative, I can do my work. My focus is good. I can collaborate with probably saw a better adoption of tools like the ones we’re using right now than ever before. We couldn’t get everyone’s attention on it. Now the question is, and we hear more energy around No, wait a second, there was value in going to work. It’s either we hear it from individuals, not all and we’re certainly still in a situation where going to work can bring great risk. But that organizations realize it. And I just referenced this to someone. yesterday. We’ve seen work from home programs for the last 20 years. We’ve known Best Buy’s results oriented work environment row, their program, Bank of America. I’m forgetting some of the others but there’s been so many IBM, Yahoo, which was so storied hp. And most of them within a decade had reversed what they had done. I wouldn’t say they made bad decisions. But I would say that this is probably a pendulum decision, where we can do that for a time. But then there’s recognition that speed and connectivity to people and connectivity to innovation. We fall into some traps when we’re not coming together. So going to work might change. If we believe the chaotic nature of work can be more disciplined, like I go to work today because I am part of a project team. And I don’t have to go there tomorrow. But I think the reason we go there is the nature of knowledge work is not that organized.

Mitch Simon 7:32
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors, Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia School of Business and Technology, innovative solutions upskilling for the what’s next and oyster organizational development dedicated to higher performance, business success and leveraging teams that can be found at oyster And finally, we jungo designing customized talent acquisition solutions at we JUN So, Rachel, what I’ve also heard, also read in the Christopher Wakefield study. And I’d love for you to illuminate us more on what an ecosystem is. Because I do think that, you know, and I had a lot of clients before COVID, which was it’s basically binary, right? Everyone works from home, or everyone works from the office. And if there were kind of in betweens, we didn’t talk about it right through this, we just ignored it. And it seems to me that if we are now in a place where there certainly will be plenty of companies where I could go work for them and not have to ever go into the office because of this switch. That I might have more choices. But what I’m thinking is that especially from a real estate perspective, it seems like it’s not binary anymore. It’s not you’re at home or you’re in the office. But it might be, you’re in the office on Tuesday, you’re at home on Wednesday, but on Friday, you’re in an complete different location that that the real estate world is kind of trying to get their arms around. You know, I think I think about industrial real estate industrial, you know, used to be the, you know, the stepchild to the real estate world. And now industrial is like, right, you know, right next to us. It’s like near our houses, storing lots of things from Amazon. Just wondering, what are your What are your prognostications about how, with this new ecosystem, we might be working in maybe two places, three places four places. We might be looking at the whole calendar system being different where you you come in once a quarter or once a month, or you go to Singapore once you know just just what you’re thinking about all that those?

Unknown Speaker 9:53
Yeah, so so one of the things I find interesting about what you’ve said is whether we believe that the real estate solution will drive behavior or whether behavior will drive the real estate solution, right? So can I change my schedule? at scale? Everyone changed their schedules to say we come in on Tuesdays, because we brainstorm and on Wednesdays, we go home and work on it. And on Thursdays we meet for a project work session. I personally question whether we will ever get that disciplined if you look at agile development, it’s kind of close. Right? There’s there’s five steps that have to happen every day when you’re doing agile development, and my and my meetups and my stand up meetings and so on, but it’s on a micro scale of what happens in one day. So but assuming we can do that, I think some of these behaviors are driven by safety right now of what people can do. So it starts from getting to the office is the largest commute for most people. So that means public transportation and I’m talking about an urban environment and biases. As New York, so bear that in mind, but that from home to office, we if we can make office as safe as possible. The difficulty is the home to that point of entry. If logistics is the last mile, we’re not having a last mile problem, we’re having the rest of the mile problem. Mm hmm. So, so then introduces these in between solutions. And that is where we think about distributed hubs. So do I have access in neighborhoods to either my particular organization or shared environments, depending on the size of the organization, those possibilities might be different. So that might be you know, in the middle of local office, something that a company pays for something closer to home might just be a Starbucks, a library, a park, places that I still I can leave home, not getting to the opposite. I don’t need an office. I just need a place to make that phone call. And then somewhere in between my is my hub that I might find in a distributed way. I might find larger gathering places that we’re calling kind of event spaces or gathering spaces. So this might be on some regularity, but that we want to come together because we’re going to have a project meeting or we’re going to have town halls and we’re going to be deliberate about when those experiences can happen. Because if I come in on Monday, and you come in on Tuesday, we never run into each other, we are kind of defeating that purpose of people coming in. So being deliberate, both about protocols, behaviors, events, and space would present this other solution that says we come together with the intention that this is not a place you go or a day you go because you have to sit at your desk and do emails. Right.

Mitch Simon 12:48
Well, you’ve shared makes a lot of sense. And it’s you know, it’s like for many for many people who move lead been leading companies for a long time. It’s so like, how do I even be And think about that. I’m just wondering how are you supporting leaders of large companies because I know that Cushman had some very large clients, how are you supporting them to start thinking about these different options, because, you know, if we, if we look at the psychology and sociology, anthropology and the real estate, you know, these are all really coming together. And it’s, it’s just a new way to approach how I’m going to think about not only my work was becoming more productive, but also my workers becoming really, you know, satisfied in their work. And then they the workers having to think about these things as well. I’m just wondering how you’re thinking about how people are going to get their arms around this.

Unknown Speaker 13:48
So from my perspective, it is pretty complex because there’s qualitative issues. There’s quantitative ones that give us data points. There’s the mission of an organization and as the individuals who choose to engage or not It feels a bit more like consumer driven thinking than ever before. For years, people who work with employees and workplaces had a captive audience, and we were thought of somewhat secondarily, they will come try to make it as good as we can. And no one no one said this out loud. But that was the reality. Make it good, you’re not going to, you’re not going to leave or come to an organization only because of the workplace. So don’t let that be a detriment. But think about it that way. And now, the complexity has just has just grown. And we if we think of it more like a consumer world, where the consumer either comes to my store buys from my store, or they don’t, I don’t get a chance to interview them, and I don’t get a chance to for another try. Right? Because once they make that decision, and they’re not coming back, I might have lost that audience. And I do think that we’re thinking of this more from an experience perspective, like a consumer world. Interesting. So it’s hard because as I said before the register and the bidding room and every other part of the experience To hit in a similar way that’s on brand to the organization. So there is a qualitative nature to that understanding leaders understanding what their vision is, understanding how that links up to who they are to the outside world to their consumers. Again, 20 years ago, I would meet with HR to learn about their culture, and I would meet with marketing to learn about their brand. And that was acceptable. That’s no longer the case. Right? So if we have to understand what the expectation is on the outside, it does help us guide qualitatively where we’re trying to go. And then the data points are everything from can’t ignore utilization. It gives us a data point, we use things like surveys, the survey we were talking about is the experience per square foot at home survey. And we’re looking to revamp that for experience per square foot coming back and experience personally, you know, we’ve had a number of versions. landlords, fortunately, are now interested as well. To my career, landlords didn’t know what to do. So Unlike me, their their contract with the person who signed their lease, landlords leading landlords now understand they are part of that value proposition. And I should note, as we were talking about that ecosystem, those large landlords who have properties incentive cities who have them in multiple cities who have them in suburbs actually have a value proposition to offer that says, if you’re a tenant in my building, I want to give you access to that gathering space in other locations, or you have now a license to come to any one of my locations and use our common spaces. And there’s greater recognition that they can be part of that. That system was also. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 16:41
One of the places themselves from a real estate point of view, I have to also change. Like, I’m going to go into a building into my office. I’m even from from a university right now. We can’t have more than 12 people in a classroom. Well, my god You know, we’re starting, we would rearrange the entire building, right? And we made obviously COVID may not always be with us, but something may, I think the influence of, you know, not being on top of one another and having varying spaces will have to affect how you even designed, whether it’s a hub, or huge building.

Unknown Speaker 17:25
Absolutely. And in would think this would make sense to you based on what you just said, when I come in if the point is to be by myself, someone but by volume, probably fewer than the ones we assign. An office space design has, has maybe maybe error or hasn’t changed as fast as businesses. Most of the time. The first thing you need to put in the bucket are seats for people to sit at. As if a desk is the solution, and then we fit things around. This is probably the balloon popping to say wait a second. That is not the primary Place, let’s fit everything else and then figure out how many desks we can have. It’s a really hard formula, because how do you know how much? And the way that we’ve done that through design historically is we’ve said, Okay, we’re going to have at least one chair for every touch that might come in on any given day. Realistically, would four people sit at a table with four chairs, if they didn’t know each other? Probably not. But that was the catch up. But it’s still often started with Well, we’re gonna have 10 desks for 10 people or 10 desks for 15 people. This is where the integration with technology is really big, because what I think we kind of meant was it was a place with a monitor. It’s a place I could put my computer. And I had a second monitor. And maybe I had some sound attenuation there. But if we can create those environments for success that look like other things, yeah, I think what we put in the kit, but we call a kid apart is really open for it. It’s just, you know, there are some things where we really have a hard time losing our connection to and that is a place with my name on it. Some a place with a door. Yeah. And those things still, they’re still hard for people to understand that. It’s really better for them. And we’ve, we’ve tried to sell this and we’ve had so many change management conversations with clients, that look, you’re giving up the office with the door and your name, but you’re gonna get access to this, you know, all these other things. Many people say that’s nice, but I want the room with my name on

Mitch Simon 19:37
it. Interesting because it sounds it sounds almost like caveman ish. if that’s a word, right? To think about, well, whatever happens, I just want my office with it with a door on it. It sounds like it might work you must be doing and I think the reason why Jimmy and I are so fascinated to have you on this call is it’s it’s like where do we even begin to start to think. Right. And what we the reason why did you and I came together was because we thought, you know, culture. You know, culture has always been a lot about place.

Unknown Speaker 20:12
Yeah, I’ve worked with three organizations, pretty small ones who have created only distributed workforces. Yeah. And one I said, Can I just do some focus groups? I just want to understand, I think when it is that deliberate, there is a sense that culture is part of the culture is that I do think it’s a bit dangerous that everyone thinks they’re ready for this, like, I’ve become the no police that no, you’re not, you’re not ready for that. Not every organization, not every culture. And remember, it’s the it’s a weak link within the culture. It’s not what the CEO says solely. But it’s what’s happening in that manager that that middle level, who actually has the hardest time with this, the C suite says I’m setting direction I have enough people around me to go figure it out the employees bought into that contract. And they’re the ones given choice. The middle management level, which still exists and could be layers big, are kind of put on to the test. And everyone’s kind of watching, and whether they’re able to adapt, and now they’re managing a distributed workforce, which is a different thing. And they’re carrying this message that comes from senior executives, as if they agree with it. And they may or may not, or they may or may not be that equipped to do so.

Unknown Speaker 21:27
So as David just said, I think is the key. Yeah. Are they?

Unknown Speaker 21:33
Yeah. And it’s, it’s not the same for every organization. And I’ve worked with those who are very ready to embrace new ways of working. And I hate to say that I have more examples of where it didn’t go well than I do with these great case studies that I can say, were perfect. And not to mention I it’s been a little while since I did this, but I looked at the tenure of CEOs in the top 50 companies. And the average tenure was about 5.7 years. Which means that there are plenty of people who have lived under multiple CEOs who have said, Alright, this one’s idea is this but who knows if they’ll be around. And once you start to have those stakeholders change and their direct reports, and so you just, it’s a really hard thing to maintain, without a strong mindset, where I’ve seen it be more successful, for better or worse is founder led companies. So take Michael Bloomberg, for example, Michael Bloomberg says, this is what we’re going to do. This is what’s going to work. I’m going to do it first. In right, a mindset to city hall that there were no offices, was it right for everyone? Probably not. But he, you knew you weren’t going to ask outlasts Michael Bloomberg at Bloomberg. So if you don’t like it, it might not be the right organization for you. And I’ve worked with multiple founders who have that mindset. They’re often I’m not Naming and so I can say is they’re often a little bit crazy, right? But like what brought them out entrepreneur and be that successful was a fast ability to take people somewhere. And that means they can take them here as well. But it is hard. It’s and in those distributed organizations, I wonder how hard it’s been to onboard people? how hard it’s been to sort of convey what’s not written in the guidebooks, but what we learn through being with other people watching how people make decisions, seeing who people are meeting with having that moment to have access to someone you wouldn’t have access to otherwise, I think there’s a lot to mitigate under these circumstances that you have to think about, and rather than mitigate, with other ways, which we may be able to do, but maybe this is what’s identifying the value that real estate has been to these organizations who have actually dismissed it as just a cost that I have to have. Mm hmm. So maybe it’s revalidated. What we can do when we come together? I know we someone said this, but then we experienced it. We had a town hall where we recognized our our leaders from 2019. during the covid period, I happen to been one of them. And it was the most subdued appreciation that could have been right. There is no looking across the room seeing people smiling at you giving a thumbs up or anything. It’s a moment the moment passes quite quickly. And you know, I think the value of this was interesting, Michel, you said that this may be the ultimate talent war, because now it’s not how convenient is to get there. That’s a really interesting angle. On the other hand, people want to bring their whole self and does their whole self get understood, or do I always have a distance between who I am and the organization if we’re not coming together in that way? Our survey data says people are not learning new skills and learning to knit and starting to bike ride, and so on. They’re not really able to distinguish their work time and their personal time. And so those things if we believe that mental health and just general ability to do your best work can happen in this scenario, I’m not sure at Mass that I think that can happen.

Unknown Speaker 25:17
Some people are saying that using zoom teams and so forth, that their interpersonal relationships have become more intense that they are seeing their manager and their colleague more regularly than ever.

Unknown Speaker 25:37
It’s great to hear someone else say that because I say maybe the chaotic nature of work is the problem, and it’s not where you do it. In our study, we saw that 75% of people both before and after COVID were satisfied with their ability to focus and similar consistency on the ability to collaborate. So some people want to conclude Well, I guess you don’t need the office without the Office for doing fine. But it’s not 100%. So my question is maybe this variable that we were putting on space and location is not the problem. But the focus problem is on the chaotic nature of how work goes in there, especially for people who need to focus. And so yeah, I do subscribe to something very similar. We also get the question, often, how will we measure success? How will we measure that productivity was enhanced? And when I’m allowed my answer that is, I don’t know. How are you measuring it today? Please, this is a variable and we’re inserting ourselves there. But if you didn’t have a good sense of that beforehand, I can’t tell you what we can do here. I only the slideshow people that you’ve created.

Unknown Speaker 26:48
Yeah, I can tell you what they are. And we can extrapolate engagement into productivity. But if that’s your only measure before, it’s really hard for us to know exactly what exchange represented.

Mitch Simon 27:03
I wanted to further up on a question on on what what people are ignoring what are what are you seeing leaders are ignoring right now that they should not be ignoring that they’re not paying attention to, as they kind of look at the current situation through the lenses of the past.

Unknown Speaker 27:22
So in an interesting way of not answering your question, I have much more access to leadership’s decision, and employee sentiment, because those are the two that have gotten the most attention, whereas the leader trying to go and what are the people saying is working is not working? The manager voice I just think has been consistently under represented. So I don’t know that I that I know. But maybe that’s the answer to your question, right. But are we really, are we asking managers how well they’re able to do and if we really in most cases, our work is collateral. If that means there is more than one person involved in success, whether it’s a project manager or a people manager, but where’s the voice? And why aren’t we asking more of that? What do they need? What would make it and how do you balance that against the employee sentiment and employee needs, which are real. But the reason that real I have often said is that there is an assumption that people who are happy, feels psychologically safe feel that they’re, they’re engaged in some purpose to what they do. And with that comes greater engagement with greater engagement comes better performance. Therefore, we want happy people, if miserable people were more Hi, were better performers, we would be miserable people. were just lucky that happy people perform well. Yes, but we can only look at human happiness as our KPIs. It’s obviously something like important and I wouldn’t discount it but I think Understanding that we could actually drive happiness more than happiness being the starting place, we could drive happiness with more interesting work, better managers, things like that. Totally. And then from my perspective, people come to me because they do believe there is a spatial component to making that work. And then we can create environments that are conducive to the kinds of experiences you want people to be having. Beautiful.

Unknown Speaker 29:27
There you go, we solve the world’s problems.

Mitch Simon 29:33
So if I were so if I’m a listener, and I’m running a multi national company, a big company, why would I want to come talk to you what would be the thing that I should go, gosh, here’s the type of problem I have. And I really need to hire Rachel to solve my problems, all kind of the issues that I should be going thinking about in my mind that would cause me to pick up the phone and call You.

Unknown Speaker 30:01
So this again, I hope I’m answering your question. But people who would come to me, I think have an inclination that real estate place, the physical place that work happens matters to their bottom line. There are people like me who work in big consulting firms, there are people like me in architectural firms. We aspire to see as many lenses as we can, but recognize that our permission is more in triggering a real estate or space solution than it is in changing how you recruit talent. That’s just a reality. So if you think you have a recruiting problem, you might not start with someone like myself. But what we do do is that we, we bring these disparate pieces of information and the most black and white one is I have a cost and it has to do with my real estate or my technology. And I want to figure out if I’m using it to the to the best of my ability and I wanted to to impact this outcome of my of my work or performance. And so we will look as far as we are allowed to because we can and we know how to look at talent and labor analytics and look at your real estate leases. The reality is leases are long term investments. So they often do become the trigger point of when I can make a change, because I have to be at the right point of that cycle. So the good news is it’s binary, I leave and close the door on that office today, I opened the door to the next one tomorrow. The difficulty is you could be anywhere in your change in culture, growth patterns. But that’s why you’d come to us because you see the qualitative and you see this quantitative, that the cost of real estate is expensive, and you want to make the most of it. And you want to engage people in that process. And it’s something tangible, you want to solve it with your people, because this is something they’re going to see. This isn’t an HR program where you’re going to change your benefits package. They’ll see it but they won’t live it every day. This is a place that we get to it. With our clients, and that we get to help our clients bring who they are to light in a really tangible way. Those are the people who we want to talk to who we think we can help.

Mitch Simon 32:12
Great, thank you. Is there any closing thoughts, something that we haven’t asked you that we should have asked, you?

Unknown Speaker 32:19
Know, but the only thing I will add is that we are really are in a tough position right now, all of us, because we’re in the storm. And we thought the storm was passing. And unfortunately, we see that this is been elongated. So we want to talk about the future. But it’s really hard to put aside what’s currently going on, and we’re kind of guessing at the human psyche and who’s going to be ready for what and and how well will we be? If in 12 months, we’re in a similar situation, then we will be talking about how the education system has to you know monumentally change is how we need to create a stop gap to get through this time because we want people back in the classroom knowing That’s right. If students go through four years of college with a remote experience where they don’t meet a professor in person, and they don’t meet their peers, really different for what the world of work might look like, for better or worse when they come to the workplace. So it’s just a really challenging time. Everyone wants an answer. We all want to know the answer. But this is, this is just so unprecedented that it’s, it’s fun. From a problem solving perspective. Is that difficult at the same time?

Mitch Simon 33:34
Yeah. Wow. Thank you for that. Well, gosh, Jimmy, any?

Unknown Speaker 33:38
No, this has just been wonderful. And I’m looking forward to further steps in the work that you’re doing. Cuz it’s going

Mitch Simon 33:50
to create Yeah, I think we’re, yeah. Yeah. Like we said, we’re gonna Rachel,

Unknown Speaker 33:56
I said Next I have to interview both of you.

Mitch Simon 33:58
Yeah, you’re right now. I think we’re all three of us are so passionate about this particular topic. And really love your insights, really, as a welcoming to think about real estate in a different light and culture and leadership. And I want to thank you so much for joining us on Team anywhere and we look forward to perhaps having you back in the future. Thanks so much.

Unknown Speaker 34:20
Thank you. It’s been great.

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